Organizational democracy is frequently associated with increased employee involvement and satisfaction, higher levels of innovation, increased stakeholder commitment, and, ultimately, enhanced organizational performance. However, democratic processes can also absorb significant time and other organizational resources and bog down decisions, which may lead to reduced efficiency. This article summarizes the pros and cons of organizational democracy. It also introduces and integrates ideas from the three other articles in this special forum. In the end, we conclude that although the economic arguments for organizational democracy may be mixed, increased stakeholder participation in value creation and organizational governance can benefit both society and corporations. In fact, the corporation itself may be envisioned as a system of self-governance and the voluntary cooperation of stakeholders.

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Copyright © 2004 Academy of Management. This article first appeared in The Academy of Management Executive (1993-2005) 18, no. 3 (August 2004), 49-53.

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